Sunday, 4 March 2012

Adelaide Fringe Review - 5-Step Guide to Being German

5-Step Guide to Being German
Austral Hotel - The Bunka, Saturday 3 March 2012

"You know this whole five step thing, it's just publicity.  Of course, there aren't really five steps to being German.  There are eighteen.  Five just makes you Austrian"*

Thus begins our guide to the Fatherland with Paco Erhard leading the way.  Amidst the humour he makes some serious points about being German today (his riffs on German school children being good at maths simply as a way to avoid yet more history lessons was extremely funny) and poses questions about what it means to feel patriotic pride in the 21st century.  However, this is no polemic and the jokes come thick and fast, aided along the way by some amusing homemade visual aids.

Mr Erhard is a somewhat frantic performer and he tends to be a bit all over the place physically, but this in a way ties in quite neatly with his attempts to poke fun at German stereotypes (efficiency, order, etc.) as he seems to be an embodiment of their antithesis, in that he's pretty scruffy and rather uncontrolled.   He is at his best when exploring the characteristics of the different regions of Germany and how Germans behave when abroad.  The latter got many laughs of recognition from a fairly large and enthusiastic audience.

My only real issue with Mr Erhard's show is that I would have liked to hear more on his observations on Australian life and culture.  There are some passing references to dangerous outback creatures, and one good crack at Adelaide's latte drinking classes, but given the nature of the show and the overall accuracy of his observations, I was hoping that he might have poked fun at us a little more.  Mr Erhard lives and works in London and there was perhaps a little too much material from his sets there focussing on the nature of Anglo-German relations.  I would like to have heard some more new material written especially for an Adelaide Fringe audience - this is perhaps best illustrated by the fact that he is actually performing in a venue called The Bunka but amidst all the Hitler jokes makes no reference to it!

This is a good show without being a great one. Mr Erhard is a lively and engaging performer and it was the perfect show for a Saturday afternoon.   I would have no hesitation in going again but, as I say, the material could do with a little more reworking for an Australian crowd.

*  I am paraphrasing wildly here.